There’s a moment when Ke$ha is lying paralyzed, her Vagina Jungle wrecked, the boy-slave who had fueled her slutwave transformation depleted. It is here that she comes face to face with her nemesis, the power that has pursued her and blasted her fans into crystalline shards. He is the antithesis to her — he is the Alpha Hater.
A step back then, for analysis.
What is a hater even, at this point, let alone the Alpha Hater so described in Porpentine’s 2013 Twine game Crystal Warrior Ke$ha? The word perhaps never carried any real weight, the kind of thing you say when you’re talking about someone who won’t get off your case or a Federal Judge, if you’re Donald Trump (“ Everybody says it, but I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump. A hater. He’s a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel. And he is not doing the right thing.”) T-Swift sings about them on the radio. We can assume then that the word has fallen the way of common disuse, the way that we say “hipster” now to mean any form of pretension.
What is the difference between “the hater” and “the troll,” aside from the fact that the troll seems to be capable of stepping backwards to claim humor when their comments strike bone? They thrive, these two Internet creatures, on the joy of bringing others down. When Ke$ha meets this hater, he screams in all caps at her from his mountain top as she speaks only of joy. YOUR MUSIC IS SCIENTIFICALLY TERRIBLE. YOU SHOULD KILL YOURSELF. He is the antithesis of joy. He is YouTube comments sections brought to life.
It is fitting then that he is paired against a figure like Kesha, so derided for her lack of musicality and for the easy target her pop music makes. To understand Crystal Warrior Ke$ha, you have to take a step back. The year is 2013, and this is long before Dr. Luke and the rape allegations became common knowledge, back when Kesha was simply a pop princess crossed with a glitter encrusted party girl. Back when she sang about brushing her teeth with a bottle of Jack, back when she sang to the misfits and the bad kids. Back when she wasn’t held in contractual limbo, unable really to sing at all.
Because the character in Porpentine’s game isn’t the Kesha of 2016. She’s the 2013 Ke$ha, who was still suffering in silence. Who was the symbol for at least one developer, of being capable of facing down the haters and surviving. Of smiling while doing it.
The Alpha Hater is a character that seems so unbelievably powerful. He so hates her music that he attempts to silence her, he crushes her in a physical altercation, he attacks her audience. He lays out a sort of musical Armageddon. In the world of the Alpha Hater, it is not simply enough to turn off the radio, no one else can listen to her either. The only joy then, that the Alpha Hater derives, is from making it so that no one else can enjoy anything that they do not deem appropriate.
He has brought low the powers of Ke$ha. Her day-glo face paint has bled. Her crystals are unharmonized. Her roadkill demi cloak is torn a bit further than normal. He appears in a “shitty lense flare” from the top of the mountain and you’re given choices:
I’ve always been my biggest fan. It was my taste that brought me to this point. I trust myself.
People come and go. The only constant is us. We are the guardian of our self.
This is the failure of the Alpha Hater after all. As Ke$ha, you hold all of the power. All the Alpha Hater can do is hate. He cannot create, he can just scream into the void. His power is based on attention, not on any real talent. “I pity your cursed mouth that can speak only negs, when mouths were made for eating and laughing and make-outs,” Ke$ha says at their meeting. Mouths can bring so much happiness, but the hater doesn’t bring happiness. He brings only his attitude and his opinion, and they are grains of sand blown around in the tornado of personality that is Ke$ha.
They give him power, but only until she is standing on her own two feet, only until she stops listening to him and remembers that her power comes from inside of her.
The hater breaks down into howls, his power is limited in this realm after all. He is just a voice, a melting pile of rage.
If you don’t like my song, then turn off the radio. Take it or leave it, love me or hate me. I’m not going anywhere.
In the end, it’s Ke$ha left standing. The hater explodes (literally) in a conclusion that is akin to Sarah telling Jareth that he held no power over her. Ke$ha is “splattered in blood and beauty” a glittering icon of blue and pink, a crystalline warrior. The song “Warrior,” playing on infinite loop in the background fades into a picture of Ke$ha covered in bright Holi powder, smiling.
Ke$ha is strong, but she is a victor in a broken battlefield. The hater has left its mark on her. Her middle finger talisman has been broken, her fans have been slaughtered, her tour bus has been cast aside. But like she says, she’s not going anywhere. The hatred wasn’t without its power, but it ultimately failed.
What is the Alpha Hater, other than an angry voice in the crowd. Like what you like, Crystal Warrior Ke$ha says. Love what you love. Don’t let the haters bring you down.